Hail Mary, with broken fingers
There is goo stuck on you.
Blessed are you as you sit over our band aids,
And blessed is the child who cut his finger and needs one.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
I am sorry you are sticky,
I promise to be gentle when I scrub it off tomorrow.
Yes, this is how our Blessed Mother sits in our home. She stands protectively over top the plastic drawers that hold our band aids at the end of the hallway. She is subject to grubby fingers rubbing her head, coloring on her dress, and breaking her outstretched fingers.
Maybe right now you are cringing inside at the thought of our lovely Mother having to endure these conditions. Maybe you are thankful to hear another family confessing that Mary is displayed sticky and broken fingered just like in your own home. Whatever your thoughts, don’t judge me just yet!
For a moment I want you to travel back in time to when Jesus was a small boy. Call Doc Brown, turn the year back to 5 AD on the dial on the Delorean dashboard, and pray that the Flux Capacitor does its job! When we get there we find the young Mother Mary with her small son Jesus. He’s filthy and grubby from playing in the mud, he’s fallen and skinned his knee and his mother comes to his aid. She covers his wound, wipes his tears, and kisses his cheek. He reaches up and wraps his dirty little hands around her neck, pulls her close and says, “You are the best mama in the world! I love you!” Now her face is smudged with dirt, her veil muddy from kneeling, and her heart fuller from the love she has received from her precious son Jesus.
Of course we can’t know for certain this scene ever took place as the Bible doesn’t record all the things that went on in Jesus’ life from the beginning till the end. However, given the fact that children are children and we know Jesus was both human and divine, we can safely assume that this scene probably happened many times over in Jesus and Mary’s life.
So what does this have to do with Mary, broken fingered and sitting on our band aid drawers at the end of our hallway? You see, Jesus gave his mother to be our mother as he hung on the cross. As he was dying he said, “Woman, behold your son. And then he said to his disciple, “Behold your mother.” John 19:26-27. The Church has always taught that at this moment he was not only giving Mary to John for John to look after, but was giving her to us as well. He wants us to take her into our homes and include her in our lives.
Maybe he didn’t foresee his mother getting sticky and colored on but he definitely wanted her to be a part of our lives. He wanted us to treat her not only as his mother but as ours as well. As a mom I know that I am the best at my job when I am on the floor playing, getting dirty and having sticky fingers squeeze my cheeks. I feel most alive when I am interacting on a very personal level with my children. I imagine Mary feels the same way.
We have other statues of Mary that are not covered in sticky fingerprints, pictures that hang reverently on the walls, beautiful prayer cards and a dozen rosaries hanging, waiting for us to pray with them as a family. They are all reminders of our beautiful, blessed Mother. I know she feels honored in our home. But I don’t want her to just feel honored. I want her to feel loved, wanted and needed. I can think of no better way to achieve this than to make sure my children interact intimately with her. I love to see little ones with their chubby arms wrapped gently (and sometimes not so gently) around Mary, talking to her in a language only she can understand and then slobberly kissing her just as they would anyone who means a lot to them.
I’m certain that Mary loves our household. I think she likes being the protector of band aids. I know she loves those sticky hands that hold her tightly and then caress her cheeks. As a mother, how could she not? She bandaged Jesus’ knees and felt his sticky, dirty hands caress her cheeks lovingly. I can only believe that when our children do this she is reminded of her own son so many years ago.
Jesus asked that we take Mary as our mother, that we respect her and love her. I can think of no better way to show our love for our beautiful Mother than making sure she is included in our everyday lives through prayer, contemplation and yes, through sticky fingers grabbing, coloring, caressing, holding and sometimes breaking our precious Mother. Just as I love those signs of love, I have no doubt that all the attention Mary receives in our home makes her feel included and loved… just as Jesus had hoped.
How do you show love and honor for Mary in your homes?